Web Designers – Are they real?

Doubt Face - Old Man

Web design used to be isolated to the very few who spent the time to learn HTML coding and built their own web pages, in the old & beginning days of the Internet. Web design did not exist then so neither did website designers.

The older style web pages were boxy looking, no real interactivity with them and the design was mostly structured as tables. Then, it was not an issue using a table structure because mobile devices did not exist to view websites, viewing was strictly with your desktop computer.

Times have changed, the Internet grew up, Google was introduced, laptops became a thing, now mobile devices, like Smartphones or Tablets, can access and view websites. Web design became a profession, but it is still a young profession because way too many people who have no real web design skills are claiming they are web designers.

Oh yes, really!

Fake / Unqualified Website Designers

I see it all the time, people claiming they can build websites, call themselves web designers and unknowing people hire them to do their websites.

Is the person you want to hire a real web designer?

You see, with the Internet giving a prolific amount of “how to” information, people can learn some basics of building a website, but this basic knowledge falls way short of being a professional web designer, yet there are those who want to think otherwise.

For example, a local business claims to build websites and presents links to 18 different websites, claiming it is their portfolio of clients and examples of their work. It is not hard to see if these examples really belong to them. Here is what I did,

Checking each example

I checked all 18 links they provided. Of the 18, none were built by the website designer and 1 link was a dead link, the website does not exist anymore. Of the 18 that were not built by the website designer, 6 of them were marked as built or designed by someone else.

Footer Information

The tell-tale sign of who made the website is at the footer, where the credits and copyright information is located. Web designers place credits to themselves or their company in the footer. You may see any of the following words or phrases,

  • website built by
  • website made by
  • website by
  • website created by
  • (variations of the above)

Why is this specific information important?

It provides advertisement of, credits to and confirmation the person or company is the author/builder of that website.

Placing this information there is crucial if the web design company expects to create a legitimate portfolio of examples. Otherwise anyone can grab website links and pretend they created those websites.

Credibility

One of the most important elements a web designer and web design company needs, credibility. A legitimate portfolio is part of establishing that credibility.

What did this mean from what I found of those 18 examples above? – well it told me the following,

  • web designer failed to ensure he/she has a current active list for potential clients to view.
  • lays question to the legitimacy of the web designer/company because now there is doubt they built those websites.
  • information is grossly outdated – if they did build websites for those businesses, that was in the past and things have changed where the old design is gone and replaced, but not by the same web designer.
  • the website designs were mostly too boxy and old.

Do your homework – what you need to know

First, it is the responsibility of the web design company or person to ensure their credentials are available to the potential client, because the client deserves to know who are they are hiring. Unfortunately, this is usually not the reality with many local website designers.

Next, remember fancy looking websites, in themselves, does not confirm a person is a web designer. Majority of websites, even ones for the web design business, are made with WordPress. It is true, anyone can learn to put a WordPress website together with a fancy theme (all built by someone else) if they have the time and willingness to do the work. It is also true and rare to see a web design company actually build a website completely from scratch without using WordPress or any CMS framework.

Skill, experience and credibility of a web designer comes in with how he uses his skills to make a website, modify it, repair it and maintain it. This is where the majority of local web designers fail and all “do it yourselfers” also.

It takes time to learn to build a WordPress or Joomla website, with a pre-built theme, but the when it comes to working with the core coding of a website, that is where most cannot do the job because it takes much longer to learn the core coding and how it works. 

Therefore, doing homework is important to determine who you want to hire to build your website, here is a short-list of how,

Portfolio

  • Check their portfolio, it should provide links to current or past clients of websites that exist and were built by the web design company. The footer should show the web designer’s name or his web design company name and/or logo. If it doesn’t, then he did not make that website you are viewing.
  • A failed portfolio is a sign to not hire the web designer.
  • Are their portfolio examples showing layouts that appear to be mostly the same? — if so, that means they learned how to build a website with a set number of pre-chosen templates and their skills are boxed into those set templates. This means they did some self-learning via the Internet and falsely call themselves web designers.

Cheap Website Claims

  • Don’t be fooled by claims of “cheap fast websites”. To build a website, even with WordPress, takes time and the cost is based on the skills and time of that website designer. A cheap website is exactly that, cheap. So how can a web designer sell his skills and time so cheaply? – it is because his skills only extend to the template he is re-using on you. There is no originality, no creativity, no variations. Your getting a cheap, pre-chosen boxed website he can slap together in “no time”.
  • Important to keep in mind, a person whose skills are boxed into a set of pre-chosen templates will soon outdate himself. The Internet is changing fast and so is website design. It won’t take long for a website template, whether WordPress or not to become sorely outdated and even non-functional.
  • Cheap websites give cheap (re-used) layouts that will loose function and appeal far faster than a web designer working with current designs. How fast will that occur will depend on the quality of the website structure that was used.

Credentials

  • Check for their credentials. This refers to training and where did they get their training. A good web designer needs training in HTML5, CSS3, PHP, JavaScript and jQuery.

Custom Work

  • Can they do custom work with any website, even CMS websites like WordPress or Joomla? Ask for examples. If his websites are all pre-chosen, he cannot or will not do custom work. 

Mobile Work

  • Are their websites mobile? (please check my mobile page for more information about bad mobile web design).

Honesty – Integrity

  • Always expect this from a web designer. Cheap quick website claims will breed bad designer ethics because now you are just a quick sale. This is why I present myself as “web designer with heart!”

Questions

It is not easy, sometimes to be able to tell whether a web designer is any good. So in light of that, if you have questions, call me, I will endeavour to help as much as I can.